Business and Career

Metallica Gears Up for New Fight Against Underage Drinking and Loud Music

May 12, 2000

Earlier this week, former band Metallica won its highly popular fight against Napster Inc., and secured a financially prosperous future for embattled major record labels, at least for the time being. With that victory behind them, Metallica is moving beyond defending the rights of multi-national corporations, and is gearing up for its fight against what it terms other "societal detriments," such as underage drinking and loud music.

Lars Ulrich, Metallica's drummer and moral compass, said late Wednesday that now that the Compact Disk format was secure for future generations and that record labels' 92% royalties on CD sales were no longer in jeopardy, he and the band had been "looking into other areas of society that need Metallica's help," and has now settled on a deal with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to combat "youthful vileness and disregard for law."

Proving that the band's new cause has more to do with action than mere Puritanical rhetoric, band members and AARP lawyers showed up at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) headquarters in Washington, D.C., early Thursday morning with a box containing the names of 335,000 underage college students. Metallica claims that each of the students listed has illegally purchased alcohol from liquor stores via the use of fake IDs created on the Internet. The names were gathered by AARP volunteers and Lars Ulrich himself during numerous covert visits to major university campuses during the past month.

In addition, Metallica is also in the process of collecting the names of teenagers who may be playing Metallica's music too loudly or at too late an hour. AARP members are encouraged to submit the names of any local hooligans who may be disturbing the peace in neighborhoods across the country. "This kind of abuse of Metallica's music has to stop," the band said at its Wednesday press conference. "This band has a zero-tolerance policy for rowdiness."

Many former Metallica fans have admitted to feeling hurt and alienated by the band's new image as cyber-narcs and tattle-tales. "I don't know what the hell they're doing," one fan recently posted on a Metallica message board. "They haven't been the same ever since they were executed by the government and replaced with animatronic robots." Similar analyses have been offered by many other fans, but Metallica's representatives have staunchly denied that the mid-April execution and subsequent replacement of the band's members has had anything to do with their newfound moral integrity.

Some journalists were speaking out about the band as early as last week when the Napster suit was announced, calling Metallica hypocrites for rallying against the free trade of digital music. Many noted that a sudden anti-piracy stance is dubious in light of the fact that the band used to encourage its fans to make bootleg tapes of its concerts and circulate the copies amongst themselves illegally. Faced with this alleged hypocrisy, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich told divisiontwo reporter Cal Sindel, "I don't know exactly what hypocrisy these supposed 'journalists' are referring to. Do you have their names?" He went on to point out that "Metallica has always been a law-abiding easy-listing Christian-rock band and will always be a law-abiding easy-listing Christian-rock band. Anyone who says or prints anything to the contrary will be receiving a letter from our attorneys."

"I don't know if Metallica's new efforts to combat underage drinking will be as successful as their fight against the MP3 format and the free trade of music," said Howard King, the Los Angeles attorney who represents Metallica. "But it certainly is going to show unruly teenagers that aging hair bands aren't going stand by and do nothing while some of the more arcane laws of this country are trampled." King is also the attorney representing rapper Dr. Dre in the artist's suit against a group of inner-city teens who stand accused of smoking pot at one of his concerts.

As the legal battles play out in court and more and more artists are likely to be executed and replaced with morally superior animatronic copies, some journalists who fear their own replacement have sided with Metallica. Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Syl Jones recently wrote in an editorial, "Right now we need a band like Metallica to stand up for the rights of record labels who are otherwise defenseless. Without the support of Metallica, Virgin Records, EMI, AOL-Time-Warner and many, many other labels who are currently enduring record-breaking CD sales wouldn't have the time or the financial resources to snoop through teenagers' personal computers and sue them for breaking copyright laws."

And Metallica isn't likely to rest anytime soon. Rumors are already circulating within the industry that the band is considering possible legal action both against people who illegally remove the certification tags from their pillows and against groups of teenagers who linger for a little too long on the sidewalk.

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